Frosty magic of winter vegetables: the amazing winter vegetables

Frosty magic of winter vegetables: the amazing winter vegetables

Last Sunday, the Chinese solar term marked lidong, or the beginning of winter. As the city prepares to prepare for the effects of plunging temperatures due to the cold wave, winter menus unfold in homes and restaurants.

While enjoying lamb stews and sizzling hotpots to keep your body warm and cozy, do not forget about healthy vegetables. Although winter is not exactly the best season for fresh produce, it still offers plentiful vegetables and fruits thanks to modern agriculture and logistics.

This winter, vegetable prices are catching up, as pork prices have fallen sharply from last year.

Frosty magic of winter vegetables: the amazing winter vegetables


Winter greens

Although vegetables like turnips and cabbage are not on the winter menu, many green vegetables are frost-resistant and can withstand light snow and low temperatures, such as spinach, leeks, mustard greens, bok choy and kale.

In China, there is the concept shuangdacai Vegetables affected by winter frosts.

The great poet of the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) Bai Juyi (772-846 AD) wrote a poem about Chinese cabbage and said that the heart of the frozen cabbage is not dead, it becomes even sweeter.

Caixin, the flowering variety of green vegetables with longer, rounder stems and more hearty texture also known as Chinese kale, can also withstand a little frost in the early winter, making them even sweeter and more tender.

Premium Chinese kale is perfect for poaching in boiling water (until the leaves turn vibrant green and the stems soft), then drained and seasoned with an umami dressing of light soy sauce, chopped garlic, chopped scallion and a splash of simmering hot oil to raise the aroma.

Chinese kale is also ideal for quick frying. The flower part is especially delicious.

Frosty magic of winter vegetables: the amazing winter vegetables


The flowering Chinese kale

You can also find another variety of Chinese kale in markets – red Chinese kale with purple red stems, yellow flowers and green leaves, also known as caitai. It is an expensive vegetable as it is mostly produced in Hubei province and transported to markets all over the country; 500 grams costs as much as 15 yuan.

The stem, leaf and flower of red Chinese kale are all edible, although some people do not like the texture of the flower and remove it before cooking. The stem is quite special as it turns green when cooked through.

The taste of red Chinese kale is different from the regular green variety, with stronger flavor but a bit bitter. It is generally fried with garlic and ginger, and especially good when spiced pork is incorporated, as the extra oil raises the taste markedly.

Frosty magic of winter vegetables: the amazing winter vegetables


Spinach is a humble, healthy vegetable with a sweeter and less grassy taste. Frostbitten spinach is especially sweet, but not astringent. The texture of winter spinach with red roots is also a little different as it is no longer crispy and crispy but soft and pillowy.

Spinach can be fried with garlic and salt, or poached to make a salad with a basic dressing. And for winter hotpot meals, spinach is the icing on the cake. After plates on plates with rich meat, seafood and offal, it is extra satisfying to finish with spinach, noodles and a little bit of broth and sauce.

For those who are susceptible to kidney stones, it is best to avoid excessive amounts of fresh, raw spinach because it is rich in oxalic acid. However, poaching it in water can neutralize the acid.

Frostbitten qingcai, known as bok choy in the West, is a seasonal vegetable that you must have. Unlike regular bok choy, which is larger in size with a crispy texture, frost-bitten bok choy has a soft texture and sweet taste. The shorter variety is especially good and the stems are extra sweet. When cooked, the vegetables will become very soft without the fibrous texture. It can be fried alone or with reconstituted shiitake mushrooms for enhanced flavor.

Frost-bitten vegetables are usually more expensive than the same varieties sold in other seasons.

Frosty magic of winter vegetables: the amazing winter vegetables


And frost not only has a positive effect on green leafy vegetables. Radishes adorned with frost also become sweeter and crispier. A record in agricultural literature from the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) called the “Book of Fan Sheng” believed that radishes should only be harvested after they have been frozen, otherwise the taste will be astringent and spicy .

The ideal time to harvest radishes is between periods of frost and snow, as they can freeze when it is too cold. Harvested radishes are usually stored in cellars.

Shepherd’s purse, or jicai, is a mustard green that is very popular in the Yangtze River Delta region. It is usually available in the winter and spring, and mostly chopped and mixed into fillings to make huntun, dumplings and spring rolls.

The shepherd’s purse is very leafy with a thin stem, and together with the filling it gives a nutritious, delicious soup when boiled with tender tofu and seasoned with salt and white pepper.

Shepherd’s purse and scrambled eggs are also a popular recipe. Because the vegetables themselves do not have a characteristic taste, the combination can be used to make pancakes for breakfast.

It can be preserved and used in fillings and soups by simply rinsing and poaching it in boiling water for a few seconds, then squeezing out the water and frost.

Frosty magic of winter vegetables: the amazing winter vegetables


Fresh shepherd’s purse (left) and dumplings stuffed with pork and shepherd’s purse.

Fanxinhuang, yellow-hearted Chinese cabbage, is a variety with short white stems and leaves that are green on the outer layers and yellow in the core. It is a lovely vegetable in the fall and winter as it is a little sweeter than regular Chinese cabbage with a more tender texture.

Fanxinhuang is ideal as a stir without the addition of other ingredients, or it can be cooked with pork and fentiao (noodles made with sweet potato starch) to complete a nutritious one-pot dish that goes perfectly with rice or steamed buns.

Broccoli is also in season, packed with nutrients and especially popular with people on a healthy diet. As a member of the cabbage family, it can be fried with chopped garlic or steamed for serving with a light dressing.

Broccoli stalks are not as tasty as bouquets, and they are also harder to cook. One trick is to make broccoli stalks for a salad by boiling them in boiling water and adding dressing. They can also be pickled for a few hours in the fridge as an accompaniment to serving with congee.

Frosty magic of winter vegetables: the amazing winter vegetables


Broccoli is a popular winter vegetable.

Frostbitten bok choy stir with shiitake mushrooms

A classic vegetarian combination with good taste.


fresh frostbitten bok choy: 500 grams

dried shiitake mushrooms: 50 grams

light soy sauce: 2 tbsp

garlic: 2 cloves

slightly chopped scallion and salt


1. Reconstitute the dried shiitake mushrooms by soaking them in water until the size and shape are restored and the consistency is fleshy and soft. Boil the shiitake mushrooms to cook them completely.

2. Rinse the bok choy thoroughly and pay attention to the dirt near the end of the stems, then break it apart and poach in water briefly so that the color becomes vibrant green.

3. Add oil to the wok, fry the chopped garlic and the chopped scallions to release the aroma, then add the cooked shiitake mushrooms and bok choy.

4. Add light soy sauce and salt to spices.

Frosty magic of winter vegetables: the amazing winter vegetables


Bok choy stir with shiitake mushrooms

Red Chinese kale and spiced meat stir

A specialty dish in Hubei cuisine, this simple stir-fry is extra rich and perfect to accompany a bowl of steamed rice in the winter.


fresh red Chinese kale: 300 grams

spiced pork with both fat and lean meat: 100 grams

garlic: 4 cloves

ginger: 1 pc

salt and cooking wine


1. Rinse the surface of the spiced pork thoroughly and steam to cook the meat with a little bit of ginger strips and cooking wine, then cut it into thin slices and separate the fat and lean parts.

2. Chop the garlic and a small piece of ginger, rinse the red Chinese kale and remove the hard ends of the stems, then cut the vegetables into several segments.

Heat some cooking oil in a wok, add the fat pieces of spiced meat and stir with a splash of cooking wine until the fat comes out, then boil the lean pieces, take out the cooked bacon and set aside.

4. Add the chopped garlic and ginger in the same wok, stir and cook until the aroma comes out.

5. Pour in red kale and fry over high heat, add the spiced meat back into the wok, and when the vegetables are cooked, season with salt and serve.

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